We are living in a time of great transition and transformation of how we connect with others, therefore, what is defined as a relationship, a friendship, and what is a healthy balance of Technology Time vs. Face Time is in a state of discovery. Kids and technology: are they too plugged in, is often asked of parenting experts such as myself. This blog offers 5 tips for parents to help with the navigation of kids and technology and 3 warning signs that your child is not in tech time/face time balance.
There are those who suggest that technology is to blame for the youth of today, especially teens, not learning how to connect with others. The inference is that with Ipods, Ipads, texting, Facebook . . . these tools of technology has created a decrease in face time social connection and is creating a culture of people lacking in connecting skills. It is my belief that we should not erase technology from our children’s lives, rather it is up to us as parents to help our children to have a healthy balance between tech time and face time. Technology often can be used as a form of connection, when used wisely and not instead of face time.
5 Tips for Parents
Helping children to help themselves be the best version of themselves is our job as parents.
- Dialogue with your children about the importance of connecting with others in Face Time. Talk with them about how that type of relationship feels, to help them believe in the importance of the development of these relationships, not just because you are telling them it is important.
- As parents it is imperative that we role model a healthy balance of plug in and plug out time (e.g., if your child is talking to you stop texting and listen, put all technology devices away during family time like game night or dinner). There is a time and place for the use of technology. For children to relate to others, to connect, they need both skills; tech relating and face time relating.
- Help them to connect with others by creating connecting opportunities (e.g., suggest the child orders their meal at the restaurant, discuss socialization lines they can use; e.g., “thanks for coming to my house”, “it was great playing at your house”, schedule after school friendship time so they can enjoy face time rather than hanging out in the house on Facebook, help them to learn the art of scheduling their own get together with friends).
- Set limits with structured routines. (e.g., Tech time not past 5 PM, Homework time, unplug during dinner, then can have tech time again).
- Spend quality time with your children. It is of great significance to spend quality time with your children with consistency. Parents often report the best “baby sitter” is technology and then are annoyed when their children are using it too much. Make the time and take the time to connect with your kids.
- Consistent immediate reactive response of impulsiveness (tech and/or not tech related). Tech related: a tech tool seems to always be around and in use regardless of the activity. Not tech related: has lost patience with interactions appearing to require immediate response demonstrated with a sense of urgency, in essence, the speed of text response has become your child’s need for other responses.
- Would rather spend time with a tech tool (e.g., text, email, Facebook) then with a live person they typically enjoy spending time with.
- Hiding their tech device.
You may view my interview on FOX & Friends FIRST where I discuss: Kids and Technology: Too Plugged In?